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Date: 24 March, 2004
Hollywood filmmaker and actor Mel Gibson talks about his controversial
new film The Passion of the Christ
Gibson directing his film The Passion of the Christ. Photo:
'I want people to understand the reality of the story, I want
them to be taken through an experience - I want them to feel.'
Why make a film about Jesus?
"This is the ultimate hero story for all mankind: He suffered,
He died and He still won. It's as if He came back to say 'Look,
see, I told you I could do this.'
"I want people to understand the reality
of the story, I want them to be taken through an experience - I
want them to feel."
Tell us more about
the artistic influences behind the film's photography
"Caravaggio did all this amazing religious art - you go round
the churches in Rome and there it is, it's everywhere in the cathedrals
and it's tremendous.
"He's pretty dark, and pretty violent and it is kinetic. The
way it's lit, the sense of light in his imagination when he did
these pictures is just amazing. It's beautiful. We emulated that
where we could."
Turning to the cast, why did do choose
Jim Caviezel to play Jesus?
"He's got some 'other world' or 'unworldly' knowledge that
seems to envelop him like a glove. And I thought that very presence
was a key thing; to cast somebody who emits that kind of light.
And he has a very good light coming from him, but that's just natural
to Jim, that's who he is. He's very clear, it's not that complicated
- until it needs to be. Then all of a sudden it is. He can get pretty
complex on you.
"Jim is just perfect. He doesn't actually make one single mistake,
anywhere, in this film. It's perfectly unflawed. He just was. You
never see him acting or anything, he just was, he was Jesus. There's
nothing that takes your attention away from that, you can just watch
him and think 'Wow. That's Jesus'."
And Maia Morgenstern
as the Virgin Mary?
Catherine von Ruhland's review of The Passion of the Christ
"She's so soulful, it's in her eyes - the eyes are so beautiful.
The first time I met her and saw her, it was electric."
Did Monica Bellucci have a rough time
as Mary Magdalene?
"She's a knockout, and a very good actress. She's just not
afraid to look filthy and dirty and beat up, crying
was awful because we were messing her up saying: 'More dirt! Put
more dirt on her! More tear streaks, mess her hair up.' You couldn't
- it was like, the messier she got, the better looking she got!"
Was it difficult directing the film?
"As far as directing this film, it's probably about the hardest
gig that I've done. It wasn't as big as Braveheart, with
all the horses and people but there were more precise things that
had to happen.
"At the end of any given day I was drained, just from moving,
just from the movement that's involved. So it's a very physical
and emotional experience for me to try and realise it and have it
happen, and create an environment for the cast where it can happen
and not to dictate too heavily, because quite often you can overdo
"You just have to stand back sometimes and just let things
happen once you've set it up and trust that it's just going to be
there: let it happen and trust the talent.
"What I wanted to accomplish with it, I think I did, and that
is to provide not a filming experience for people, but an experience
Interview arranged by Christopher Nield
Steve Tomkins' review of the film
Tomkins on 2000 years of anti-Semitism
thoughts about the film on our discussion forum
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